Jesus Our Shepherd

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
17 July 2011

Homily
Rev. Don Wright

We have unbelievably rich scripture readings today. In our first reading from the Book of Wisdom we see God as totally different from the God as described in the 1st Book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis. There God is a strict, angry, and judging God. In the Book of Wisdom God is described as Jesus knew him and who would better know God than God himself, Jesus the second person of the Trinity. Wisdom describes God as all caring, all powerful, all merciful, the greatest teacher and counselor, the gentlest of judges ruling with great patience. Todayís psalm #86 adds to those attributes by reminding us that God is as well good and forgiving. Paul in Romans expands on all those attributes telling us that God the Holy Spirit is there to help us to the point of praying for us when we canít put our prayers into words. Then we have our Gospel in which Jesus defines our world with a parable which helps us understand that we donít have a perfect world, there is evil in it and it isnít easily dealt with. He uses an example which the people of his time could relate to just as farmers of today might. The weeds he talks about, darnel, must have been prevalent at that time. It grows close to the wheat, initially looks like wheat, has roots deeper and stronger than wheat and any attempt to uproot it would uproot the wheat as well. So the wheat and the darnel grow up together and are separated only at the harvest. The message being that there will always be evil in our world.

In contrast to people wheat and darnel doesnít change wheat to darnel or darnel to wheat but in our world good can be turned into evil via giving into temptation and evil to good via conversion to live a life according to the Commandments and Beatitudes as Jesus taught. We all know that it is easy to give into temptation for us just as it is for animals. I am working at training my Jack Russell and read that they say you can tell the temperament of a dog by having the owner fall down and pretend to be hurt a bad dog will tend to bite the owner and the good dog will show concern by licking the fallen owners face. One lady tried that while she was eating pizza she stood up, clutched her heart, screamed and fell to the floor. Her 2 dogs looked at each other and then raced to the table for her pizza. So in that case the telling the good from evil didnít work and in our life it isnít always easy to distinguish and evil person from a good one because we tend to give into temptation. Jesus was tempted by the devil but he didnít fall but we weak humans often do.

Jesus by his death and resurrection conquered sin and death, and gave us a guide for our living , but yet the enemy, the weeds are still among us as are the many temptations enticing us to become weeds. Wouldnít it be great if evil would be completely destroyed and all temptations would go away but the fact is God calls us to endure the evil that is in the world and be patient with ourselves and others who fail to meet the high standards expected of a Christian remembering that God has a plan for this kingdom and harvest. God allows the good and evil to coexist in the world so that the evil ones may come to conversion before their time here ends and he must punish them.

We all have the free gift of free will and can choose to do good or to do evil. Many times we see evil prospering, tempting us to follow their example but the God so well defined in todayís readings is always there for us to guide us to face the battle we experience today and those which are ahead. With eyes of faith we can learn to detect the weeds among the wheat and resist it wherever we see it. We can depend upon Godís help, relying on the truth of His Word, the power of his love and his grace and strength.

How can we logically choose to do evil, as tempting as it might be when we realize what a fantastic God we have on our side who provides all we need to experience true happiness both here and hereafter?